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© 2021

Oedipus Rex in the Genomic Era

Human Behaviour, Law and Society

  • Highlights existential, social, ethical, and legal concerns and dilemmas introduced by the genomic era

  • Examines Sophocles' Oedipus Rex through the prism of contemporary knowledge on genetics

  • Gives an accessible overview of recent developments in behavioural genetics for students, scholars, and professionals

Palgrave Macmillan
Book

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Yulia Kovas, Fatos Selita
    Pages 17-43
  3. Yulia Kovas, Fatos Selita
    Pages 45-71
  4. Yulia Kovas, Fatos Selita
    Pages 73-110
  5. Yulia Kovas, Fatos Selita
    Pages 111-172
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 173-234

About this book

Introduction

“This wonderful book is enlightening and entertaining in equal measure. It makes a valuable contribution by bringing Oedipus to geneticists and genetics to lovers of literature, joining narratives from different times and disciplines and, in doing so, helping us to reflect on what it means to be human.”

Kathryn Asbury, University of York, UK

“This book is a masterful and riveting re-examination, through the lens of modern genomic science, of the most fundamental issues inherent in the human condition. It is a joy to read!"

Richard M. Kohn, Principal, Goldberg Kohn Ltd., Past Board Chair, Brain Research Foundation, USA

This book explores the answers to fundamental questions about the human mind and human behaviour with the help of two ancient texts. The first is Oedipus Rex (Oedipus Tyrannus) by Sophocles, written in the 5th century BCE. The second is human DNA, with its origins around 4 billion years ago, and continuously revised by chance and evolution. With Sophocles as a guide, the authors take a journey into the Genomic era, an age marked by ever expanding insights into the human genome. Over the course of this journey, the book explores themes of free will, fate, and chance; prediction, misinterpretation, and the burden that comes with knowledge of the future; self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophecies; the forces that contribute to similarities and differences among people; roots and lineage; and the judgement of oneself and others.

Using Oedipus Rex as its lens, this novel work provides an engaging overview of behavioural genetics that demonstrates its relevance across the humanities and the social and life sciences. It will appeal in particular to students and scholars of genetics, education, psychology, sociology, and law.

Yulia Kovas is Professor of Genetics and Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK and Visiting Professor at New York University London, UK; Tomsk State University, Russia; and other universities. She is director and advisor of several international research laboratories.

Fatos Selita is an English Barrister and a New York State Attorney and Counselor at Law. He is Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK and Tomsk State University, Russia, and Visiting Lecturer at other universities.

Keywords

psychology and law human genetics Sophocles individual Differences Biological Foundation of Behaviour Genetics and Law Genetics and justice Genetic prediction Gene-Environment interplay Genetic influences on behaviour commercial genotyping genetic risks and propensities self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophesies expectation effects

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Professional Studies, Science & TechnologyGoldsmiths University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Barrister (England and Wales); Attorney and Counselor at Law (NY State)Goldsmiths University of LondonLondonUK

About the authors

Yulia Kovas is Professor of Genetics and Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK and Visiting Professor at New York University London, UK; Tomsk State University, Russia; and other universities. She is director and advisor of several international research laboratories.

Fatos Selita is an English Barrister and a New York State Attorney and Counselor at Law. He is Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK and Tomsk State University, Russia, and Visiting Lecturer at other universities.

Bibliographic information

Reviews

“This brilliant book is an example of the magic that can be created when leading experts in diverse fields come together to consider a topic from a new perspective. A 'must read' for anyone with an interest in behavioural genetics and in classics—or indeed for anyone wanting to understand more about being human and living alongside others.” (Alice Gregory, Professor of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)

“This is the most interesting and thought-provoking book about DNA and the genomic revolution this year. All the big questions are here and they're literally integrated with the wisdom of Sophocles—no kidding.” (Rich Haier, Emeritus Professor, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, USA) 

“This book is the amazing trinity of science, literature, and philosophy. Here you can find the answers to Paul Gauguin’s famous questions “D'où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous? (Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?)” from the perspective of modern behavioral genetics. We come from the Big Bang and the following molecular and DNA evolution. We are the stochastic interplay between genes and environment. Today, genetic testing replaces the prophesies of the ancient oracles. How do we deal with these prophesies by our seemingly free will? You can find your own answers in this insightful book, which brings genetic literacy that is really necessary in the genomic era.” (Juko Ando, Professor, Faculty of Letters, Keio University) 

“The authors weave together two seemingly disparate disciplines—genomics and Greek tragedy—to explore a plethora of fascinating and vital topics spanning law, philosophy, society, and psychology. This delightful and very readable book should be read by anyone who’s ever been interested in who we are, where we have been, and where we might be going.” (Robert Chapman, PhD, Goldsmiths, University of London; The Accessible Genetics Consortium)

“This wonderful book is enlightening and entertaining in equal measure. It makes a valuable contribution by bringing Oedipus to geneticists and genetics to lovers of literature, joining narratives from different times and disciplines and, in doing so, helping us to reflect on what it means to be human.” (Kathryn Asbury, Professor, University of York, UK)

“This book is a masterful and riveting re-examination, through the lens of modern genomic science, of the most fundamental issues inherent in the human condition. It is a joy to read!” (Richard M. Kohn, Principal, Goldberg Kohn Ltd., Past Board Chair, Brain Research Foundation, USA)